April 16, 2002

Large majorities of Americans are personally comfortable with a woman president (76%) and with a woman as vice president (82%). And 68% of respondents believe their neighbors are ready for a woman as vice president and half (50%) believe they are ready for a woman president, according to a poll conducted for The White House Project by RoperASW, April 19-21, among 1,024 Americans 18 years of age and older.

Not only are men and women alike ready for women to lead our country, but overwhelming majorities are comfortable with women in other leadership positions in the public and private sectors according to the poll released at the National Women's Leadership Conference, an event hosted in Washington, D.C., by The White House Project, a national non-partisan organization created to advance women's leadership across sectors, including the U.S. presidency.

Respondents were asked how they personally feel about a woman as head of various types of companies and organizations. For example, 90% of Americans are comfortable with a woman running a large technology company and 91% are comfortable with a woman running a major film studio. Americans are equally comfortable with a woman running a university, a financial institution, a law firm or a charity organization (92%). Other sectors where women's leadership was overwhelmingly accepted was as head of a newspaper (88%), head of a large retail company (90%) and as a member of Congress (91%).

"These poll numbers suggest America is ready for a woman in The White House. It is time for the national parties and presidential candidates to take notice. Once again, the American public is ahead of the political pundits," said Marie C. Wilson, president, The White House Project.

Majorities, although smaller ones, also felt personally comfortable with a woman as a religious leader (80%), head coach of a professional sports team (77%), general in the military (70%).

Interestingly, the poll suggests that American's own personal willingness to accept women in certain senior leadership positions exceeds their perceptions of their fellow Americans' willingness. Whereas 50% of Americans say that people are comfortable with a woman as President of the United States, a substantial 76%, or three in four Americans, say they are personally comfortable with a woman in the Oval Office. This gap exists, although to a lesser degree, when it comes to a female vice president, with 68% saying others are comfortable with a women in this office, but a full 82% saying they are personally comfortable with a woman a heart beat away from the presidency.

"We cannot overlook this gap between Americans' perceptions of their neighbors and what they say they personally are prepared to accept," said Carolyn E. Setlow, group senior vice president, RoperASW. "In opinion polls, we often see a tendency for people to assign to others those attitudes that they may feel expressing personally. That said, half or more of Americans feel the nation is ready to accept women in a wide variety of top spots in both the public and private sectors."

Other posts for which Americans' personal comfort level substantially exceeds that which they attribute to others includes general in the military (70% personally comfortable versus 52% feel the public is comfortable) and a professional sports coach (77% personally comfortable, 57% the public).

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